A New Bright Spot Opens In North Adams
By Amy Krzanik
If you’re looking for a poorly lit watering hole with a handful of blaring TVs, some stale pretzels for snacking and a surly bartender who acts like he’s doing you a favor when he takes your order, you’re really going to hate North Adams’ newest microbrewery and bar.
Bright Ideas Brewing, located on the campus of MASS MoCA, is the brainchild of Northern Berkshire County residents Orion Howard, an oncologist, and Eric Kerns, formerly of the Williamstown Theatre Festival and MASS MoCA. The two met just over a year ago and an idea became a reality very quickly. With the help of brewmaster Chris Post of Wandering Star in Pittsfield, the project went from “nothing to serving beer in about five months,” says Kerns.
The building where Bright Ideas is housed was fully leased when the two business partners inquired, but all tenants relocated within so that the brewery could take over the front space. Bright Ideas’ large wood bar came from the center beams of MASS MoCA’s Building 6, which the museum is renovating on schedule to open next year. Old flooring became tables, and rejected glass from Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s upside down house from 2009’s exhibit Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With now serves as a wall between the brewery and the bar.
Although the taproom had a soft opening in March, and has kept steady Thursday through Sunday hours since then, a grand opening celebration is planned for this coming Sunday, June 19 from 2 to 7 p.m. There will be eight beers available, including an IPA, a brown, a red, ESB, wheat, a gose sour beer and a nonalcoholic root beer. If you don’t already have a favorite (mine’s the Stout with more-than-hints of espresso and chocolate), try the flight and choose four of them to taste.
The event, which will feature live performances by Freddy & Francine from Los Angeles, and Old Sky from Burlington, VT, has been dubbed by Kerns and Howard as an event “for dads, by dads.” “We’re both dads,” says Kerns, “and we thought ‘what would we want to do on Father’s Day?’”
But he hastens to add that Bright Ideas is not only for dads. Kerns says they intentionally created a space that is female-friendly and doesn’t feel like a sketchy bar. In fact, you’ll often find his wife, Molly, manning the taps. “There’s a myth that boyfriends and husbands introduce women to beer,” he says, “but women are the largest-growing population of beer enthusiasts.”
The goal, say Kerns and Howard, was to build a “camaraderific” community drinking space, where people could come in to play card games, or to grab dinner from Bon Tricycle, a food cart that takes up residence there during business hours. (Offerings include bahn mi, pulled pork, jerk chicken, cubano or brie sandwiches; 12-hour Cherrywood smoked chicken or brisket; cheese/charcuterie plates; fresh oysters; and pizzas from Williamstown’s Hot Tomatoes.)